Easy Money - Make sure your clients don't miss out on the latest tax credits

Advisor's Edge

2007-02-01

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As advisors, how proactive have we been about educating our clients on the myriad tax changes that were announced in 2006 to ensure they minimize their tax payments come April?

Obviously not proactive enough, according to the results of a poll released late last year by H&R Block Canada.

The poll, conducted by Environics Research Group on behalf of H&R Block, surveyed just over 2,000 Canadians last fall and found that more than 50% of them are unaware of the new tax credits.

In fact, only the GST cut (from 7% to 6%) along with the newly introduced Universal Child Care Benefit (UCCB) had double-digit awareness, with 28% and 17%, respectively. Other new tax credits, such as the Canada Employment Credit, the Public Transit Credit and the Textbook Tax Credit, had less than 5% awareness.

But, says Cleo Hamel, a senior tax analyst with H&R Block Canada Inc., while most Canadians will be able to claim new tax credits on their 2006 tax returns, more than 80% of fulltime, employed Canadians polled said they were not going to claim the Canada Employment Credit-even though they're entitled to it. "It means more than 11 million Canadians will be missing an easy deduction", she notes.

More good news is that one-third of respondents said they would consult their financial advisors or accountants to assist with tax-credit knowledge. But what about the other two-thirds? Answers ranged from "read the tax form carefully" (12%); to using a tax software package (4%); to simply "don't know" (14%).